The stats man and the sea


Pirate hunter, undercover statistician or psychological medic? Karsten von Hoesslin’s career is as hard to pin down as the oceans he covers as a ‘mari­time response consultant’.

I’m flying in an Antonov 27, 50 metres over the water, dropping $3.5 million to a bunch of guys in raggedy clothes. Really, the money is just a prop,” says Karsten von Hoesslin on how to make a ransom payment to Somali pirates who’ve hijacked a ship and taken its crew hostage.

Ask him what he does for a living and the answer is necessarily circumspect. On paper he may be a ‘maritime response consultant’, but delve a little deeper and more amazing details start to emerge. Best known publicly as the host of National Geographic’s series Lawless Oceans, von Hoesslin began his oceanic voyage many years prior with an interest in the South China Sea disputes for his Masters. “Having examined the United National Convention of the Law of the Sea, I asked myself ‘how can something be so simply laid out and yet so complex to implement?'”

The grants and funding he secured for that research also allowed him to peek at piracy issues where there were plenty of open source statistics but suspicions of under-reporting. “I then started my PhD research looking at various human intelligence methodologies for infiltrating organised crime groups,” says von Hoesslin. “I started testing that in South East Asia in pirate networks, seeing how far I could infiltrate. The results were unprecedented, especially in comparison to what was reported in open sources.”…Click HERE to read full article.